With the days getting hotter and hotter, those of us who shave, tweeze or tweeze unwanted hair are ready to make a few hair removal mistakes. But to save us from a summer of red, bumpy skin, we asked dermatologists and an esthetician to share the most common slip-ups they see so we know how to do the opposite. Find all their advice below.
6 common hair removal mistakes to avoid
1. Do not hold the skin during hair removal
Lynn McKinley-Grant, MDa board-certified dermatologist in Washington, DC, isn’t a big fan of hair removal because there is plenty of room for user error. If you’re going to epilate, she says you need to make sure you hold the skin right next to the hairs you want to remove before pulling them out.
“The hair follicle also goes deep into the fat in your skin. So if you hold the skin taut, that makes for a thinner space for it to come out as you push the fat away,” she says. This makes it easier to remove all hair and causes less trauma to the skin, which can lead to scarring. “Incorrect hair removal can cause severe scarring, so waxing is best.”
2. Forgetting to stop retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) before waxing
But! If you are going to wax, you need to plan ahead. Ingredients like retinoids and AHAs help your skin slough off dead cells so fresh new skin can glow without clogging. However, this makes the skin more sensitive and allows a wax strip to remove more than hair.
“Retinoids decrease the thickness of the stratum corneum which is the outermost layer of the skin,” explains Tiffany L. Clay, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Atlanta. “If you are missing any part of this protective layer, your skin may be damaged by the waxing process. You may burn yourself or the wax may tear off some of the skin, which may lead to scarring. “
You can still use these ingredients if you are waxing as long as you stop using retinoids seven days before your appointment and AHAs two to five days before your appointment.
3. Shave against the grain
“Although you shave closer when you shave against the grain, it’s best to shave in the direction of the hair growth to avoid razor bumps, burns and reduce the risk of ingrown hairs,” says Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Northern California.
However, determining the direction of your hair growth is difficult to discern if you have curly hair. “For some patients with curly hair, you can determine the direction when the hair is wet, and it’s always best to shave when the hair is wet,” says Dr. Campbell. “You can always cut your hair with scissors rather than shave if you’re unable to tell.”
4. Wax the wrong way
Just like shaving, you want to take the direction of hair growth into your waxing equation, explains Nathalie Ismielbrand expert and ambassador at Nad’s. She says you should apply the wax in the direction of hair growth and then pull the strips or hard wax in the opposite direction. for the best results. “Be sure to hold the skin very taut, then pull the wax out in the opposite direction, which ensures that the hair is lifted quickly and comfortably at the roots,” she says.
5. Not changing your razor blade often enough
“Be sure to replace the blade after a few shaves (about five shaves) because the duller the blade, the more likely your skin is to become irritated,” says Dr. Campbell.
6. Skip the post-waxing moisturizer
Watch our senior beauty editor learn all about at-home waxing: